Watch Out, Warden!

Jim Shea writes in the Harford Courant: “Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s not a good idea to be sending reporters to the Big House:

Order: Reporters would not set a good example when it comes to following directions. You can’t just tell them what to do.

To get a reporter to do anything, a guard would have to: ask nicely; explain the order in detail; debate at length whether the reporter has a better approach; and then begin the process anew after the reporter failed to do what had been agreed upon.

Accommodations: In general, reporters are not the type of people to become overly concerned with things like clutter, organization, sanitation or the possibility of an epidemic. Confining a reporter to an 8-by-10 cell is the equivalent of institutionalizing a landfill.

Attire: The prison dress code would be compromised to such an extent that the orange jump suit, the muscle T-shirts and the do rag would seem like high fashion when faced with a newsroom style that features khaki, knockoffs, comfortable sizing and a lack of commitment to the iron.

Grousing: As a group, reporters are among the finest, most accomplished complainers in the world. In fact, I don’t believe there is a documented case in which a reporter has ever been even remotely happy with anything.

Schmoozing: If jailed, a reporter will take only a few days to get to know all the other prisoners, and the guards, and their families, and the warden’s secretary, and the parole board, and many, many new anonymous sources. Can you say five-part series?

Gossip: Nothing can destroy morale faster than idle gossip, and gossip is what reporters do for a living – and fun.

Assimilation: Reporters such as Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper, if they are sent to prison for failing to reveal sources, will be protected by an inmate population that respects the concept of confidentiality.

Their experience would, of course, be in contrast to that of someone like, say, Novak or Braveheart, who would almost assuredly become part of the dating scene.